World champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) finally got his hands on his first victory in the rainbow jersey with a well-timed sprint finish on stage 12 of the Vuelta a Espana.
The Belgian, whose time in the stripes is coming close to its end, overhauled an early sprint from Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) at the end of a fast, twisty and technical uphill finish in Tarragona.
With an extended 'safe zone' of 5km due to the technical nature of the finish, there were no changes in the top ten of the overall classificationand Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) kept hold of his red jersey for another day.
On one of this year's Vuelta's rare sprint days, the break of Romain Zingle (Cofidis), Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural) and Cedric Pineau (FDJ) had little chance of success. Predictably, having established a lead of over four minutes on the rolling ride to Tarragona, they were caught with just over 18km to go.
After his stage six heroics, Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) took off on his own with 13km to race but the peloton were having none of it and shut down his move a couple of kilometres later.
Under pressure from Astana, Orica-GreenEdge and Argos-Shimano, the bunch was substantially thinned on the run in to the line.
Nevertheless Gilbert found his perfect position through the backstreets and road furniture to ensure that he wouldn't become another victim of the 'curse of the rainbow jersey.'
Vuelta a Espana 2013, stage 12: Maella to Tarragona, 164km
1. Philippe Gilbert (BMC) in 4-03-44
2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky)
3. Maximilliano Ariel Richeze (Lampre-Merida)
4. Luca Paolini (Katusha)
5. Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quickstep)
6. Franceso Lasca (Caja Rural)
7. Steve Chainel (Ag2r-La Mondiale)
8. Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (Argos-Shimano)
9. Anthony Roux (FDJ)
10. Zakkari Dempster (NetApp-Endura) all at s.t.
Overall classification after stage 12
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana in 45-26-06
2. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Saxo-Tinkoff at 0-31
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0-46
4. Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack-Leopard at st
5. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 2-33
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 2-44
7. Ivan Basso (Ita) Cannondale at 2-55
8. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 3-35
9. Rafal Majka (Pol) Saxo-Tinkoff at 3-46
10. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha at 3-56
Vuelta a Espana 2013: Stage reports
Stage 11: Cancellara wins time trial, Nibali regains red
Stage 10: Horner wins stage and regains race lead
Stage nine: Moreno wins stage to take race lead
Stage eight: Konig wins, Roche takes lead
Stage seven: Stybar wins from escape
Stage six: Morkov wins after Martin's day-long escape
Stage five: Matthews wins in Lago de Sanabria
Stage four: Moreno wins tough stage
Stage three: Horner takes charge with stage win and overall lead
Stage two: Nicolas Roche attacks to win
Stage one: Astana takes opening team time trial
Vuelta a Espana 2013: Photo galleries
Stage 12 photo gallery
Stage 11 photo gallery
Stage 10 photo gallery
Stage nine photo gallery
Stage eight photo gallery
Stage seven photo gallery
Stage six photo gallery
Stage five photo gallery
Stage four photo gallery
Stage three photo gallery
Stage two photo gallery
Stage one photo gallery
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